Should College Football Be Banned? - Live Debate

Submitted by Leaders And Best on May 8th, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Maybe not too informative, but entertaining debate between Buzz Bissinger, Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Green and Jason Whitlock on whether college football should be banned.

Video of the debate:

Of interest, Jason Whitlock refers to Brady Hoke in his closing statement at 1:43:30, and how Hoke is an example of a coach who develops people and prepares them for life.



May 8th, 2012 at 7:30 PM ^

This offseason has been particularly obnoxious so far. I actually wouldn't mind going back to the horrid days where BigTen expansion was talked about 100% of the time.


May 8th, 2012 at 7:45 PM ^

And you want to know the really shitty part?  Talk begets talk which begets action.  Damned if we are not a society that latches onto myopic viewpoints with the fervor of a pissed off pitbull.  The more this item trends, the more these conversations heat up...


May 8th, 2012 at 7:54 PM ^

The discussions are absurd, but the debate is typically about banning all levels of amateur football.  Reason being that if you are getting paid, you can choose to take a job that may have repercussions on your health but apparently you have no such right if you're doing it for fun and not getting paid. 

This whole thing is an idiot circus.  Nobody forces anybody to play football so why should we even give a shit.  It's a choice to be made by individuals, similar to smoking cigarettes.  And last time I checked cigarettes weren't banned. 


May 8th, 2012 at 9:03 PM ^

is awesome. For one thing, nothing says "catastrophic injuries" like not letting people learn how to play a sport until they are 6'5 280lbs. Another, if we are going to be banning sports, I think boxing or MMA has to go before football. 

These kids choose to play, because they love the game. They are aware of the possible health ramifications.


May 8th, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

i dont even care to hear why anyone would ever think that's a good idea... no...just no...

banning college would be a public health disaster...thousands of depressed people with nothing to do on the internet anymore...

Clarence Beeks

May 8th, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

Personally, I'm enjoying listening to this Gladwell guy getting his ass handed to him.  Talk about an utter inability to utilize logic to develop an argument...


May 8th, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

There are too many positives for an outright ban, but major reform is needed.  The NCAA should probably triple their enforcement staff, and finding a way to get them subpeona power wouldn't hurt either.

Wolverine Devotee

May 8th, 2012 at 7:38 PM ^

Give me a break. Who is going to actually "ban" it?

College football is a money making machine, and will never stop. If people are up in arms over the concussions, GET OVER IT. It's part of the game, it's part of what we sign up for as players. Don't wanna take the risk? DON'T PLAY.

I'm lucky to even walk after all the surgeries I've had on my knees due to hits and bad falls, and I'd do it all over again because I had a great time.

Bando Calrissian

May 8th, 2012 at 7:43 PM ^

Funny how things are cyclical.  Theodore Roosevelt summoned a meeting at the White House in 1905 to discuss this very topic, after a particularly bad rash of maimings and deaths on college football fields throughout the country the previous season.  

I do think there needs to be a fundamental change in how the game is taught, a reassessment of how equipment may be giving players a false sense of security and encouraging rougher/more reckless play, even limited revisions to the rulebook to ensure player safety.  These are all delicate things, but I think it's becoming fundamentally clear competitive football, at the collegiate and pro levels alike, has become a game far more detrimental to players than it is beneficial in the long run.  This is pretty much undeniable.


May 8th, 2012 at 7:57 PM ^

I want to see soft pads and leather helmets with no faceguards.  That way, nothing can be used as a weapon.  It will also discourage hitting with 100 percent force, which seems to be the way the game is taught nowadays.  

Since the ground can't cause a fumble, it shouldn't be legal to add force to the impact when a player hits the ground.  Often, a QB is fine after the first hit that takes him off of his feet, but sustains shoulder or arm injuries because the player then slams him into the ground.  

Usually, those who pound the bully pulpit the loudest about how "football is a tough sport" are pussies in real life who can barely tackle a bag of Doritos.  It's time to stop expecting our heroes to die early for us or live lives of diminished quality so that we can get excited over a hard hit.  

The game is still great, and will still look great, even if we change it so that the participants aren't risking their health every time they go out on the field.


May 8th, 2012 at 8:08 PM ^

It is not. As long as the participants know exactly what the risks are, and they are participating entirely voluntarily, there is absolutely nothing wrong with an assumption of that kind of risk. And yes, it is also legitimate to say it is a tough sport, despite your silly Doritos line.

People don't just risk poor health, they literally risk death every time a car race happens. We don't ban car racing for the exact same reason--everyone is there voluntarily, knows the risks, and assumes the risk. And there is nothing, not a thing, wrong with that.

I'm not against continued evolution of safety rules, but there is a point past where a sport no longer becomes the sport you love. I'm not saying this is it, just that the existence of risk, and the knowledge that injury risk is high, is not in itself wrong.


May 9th, 2012 at 7:44 AM ^

I can't agree with this 'need to pay and compensate players' mentality that continues to surface. Anymore a college athletics scholarship is upwards of a $100,000+ financial benefit. Not to mention the uniforms, the clothing, the food, the travel, the connections...Not to mention the opportunity college showcasing does to foster a lucrative NFL contract...and yes I understand a small percentage of athletes move on toward a professional sports career...but kids don't need to be 'paid' above and beyond. It opens a Pandora's Box of bending rules even further.

Realizing there are many programs embroiled in financial scandal, the solution isn't to just open the gates because, well everyone is doing it. The solution is to have a SPINE, stop worrying about the $$$$ lost by banning a program, NUT UP and do what the rules allow the NCAA to do...DROP THE DAMN HAMMER on schools like ohio, Oregon, USC, et al. Do they really think other programs won't rise to the top? Look at what scholly limitation has done for MAC and similar conferences. Back in the days of Leach, and Wangler etc, UM and monolithic programs would have five deep rosters to prevent other programs from having those kids. The MAC in the modern era is a competitive conference. Just ask MSU.


May 8th, 2012 at 8:12 PM ^

In response to your first suggestion, other's have pointed out that rugby, despite it's light padding, has the same frequency of concussions as football.

In response to your second suggestion, it just isn't viable, seeing as quite often slamming a guy into the ground is just part of the natural motion of a tackle. In cases where it's not, you run into the problem of players being forced to let up before a guy is actually downed, which could be trouble when you're up against a player who is particularly adept at staying on his feet after the first hit.

Nobody thinks football players are pussies. The point is just that football is by nature a violent sport, so you're either going to have to implement some HUGE changes or just stick with the system you've got. I think the best option is just to make sure that kids and parents are informed as to how dangerous it really is - similar to the anti-smoking campaign.


May 8th, 2012 at 7:58 PM ^

Here's one reason: if what you said were true, we'd see less interest in the game from the aspect of players playing it. Basketball and Baseball are far, far safer and you can make equivalent or even more money than the NFL. Yet the game has never had higher participation, never had more popularity. If potential players thought that was true, they would find their way into other sports just as with any market for any activity or good.


May 8th, 2012 at 8:05 PM ^

Try to see beyond the headlines.  The vast majority of people who play college and NFL football live perfectly normal lives after their football days are done.  It's undeniable that yoru assertion is absolutely deniable. 

What we really need to focus on is the tuba  and bass sections of marching bands throughout the country.  Carrying around large, often heavy instruments is y a hazard to the 300 pound lards with no core muscles to take the pressure off spines leading to lifetimes of back problems. 

Wolverine Devotee

May 8th, 2012 at 7:45 PM ^

Banning college football means I might as well blow my brains out with 12 gauge.

For Godssake I have the national championship years painted on the vertical wall of the staircase in my house.

Michigan Football is what gives me something to look forward to, all the time.

Clarence Beeks

May 8th, 2012 at 7:46 PM ^

Bissinger just (unintentionally) exposed the fatal flaw in their argument: they just hate college football.  Rowing?  Has a purpose on a college campus.  Football?  No purpose on a college campus.  Logical consistency?  None.


May 8th, 2012 at 7:47 PM ^

Yes, it should be banned. Banned in the same way driving a car, boxing/UFC, working in coal mines and smoking should be. And by that, I mean these are all things that have the potential to cause great physical harm, yet are so entrenched in the way people live that the thought of getting rid of them is utterly asinine and not worth wasting one's breath debating on.


May 8th, 2012 at 7:54 PM ^

....but does anyone else think Malcolm Gladwell really needs to step away from the Van De Graaff generator for a few moments?

That being said, while I think the game needs to examine how it treats those who play it and what sorts of things it can do to mitigate the long-term impact of playing the game (rule changes, equipment changes, access to adequate care, etc...), to outright ban it is an unenlightened and a needlessly moralistic solution to something which also provides some intangible benefits, the least of which would be the lessons of teamwork and  community. 


May 8th, 2012 at 8:08 PM ^

All this debate is, is another "Jocks vs. Nerds" argument, essentially having Bissinger exhort the negative effects of college football while Green defends the game--with side comments from Gladwell and Whitlock (in the 12 minutes of so I watched they both made a couple comments at most).

Darker Blue

May 8th, 2012 at 7:58 PM ^

If they banned college footbaw it would give me a reason to bitch about something else beside high gas prices. 


So no, they should not ban college footbaw


May 8th, 2012 at 8:01 PM ^

Everyone on that stage talked like an idiot the entire time, with Bissinger maybe looking worst-informed. Gladwell has a weak argument against college football, because his main issue is complaining about the lives of NFL players after retirement, which is different. Bissinger had an even dumber academic mission argument. Example: Joe Paterno had too much power at Penn State. Joe Paterno coached football. Therefore, ban college football.

Just embarrassing all around. Whitlock seemed least dumb, which is alarming.


May 8th, 2012 at 8:05 PM ^

I'd sooner ban the NFL. College players have brains that are still generating new cells, and probably heal faster from concussions. They only play 4~5 years and rarely against players like Urlacher or Ray Lewis Or Polamalu, so the hits shouldn't be too severe.

If it means paying them, yeah so be it.


May 8th, 2012 at 8:07 PM ^

I'm's not like every individual who plays pro-football is depressed/suicidal either...

Banning college football would prevent more kids from getting college degrees than it would prevent problems 20+ years down the road.